Credit Harry Potter for a lot of theme-park attractions at Disney World.
If Universal Studios had not changed the theme-park game by opening the first "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" at its Orlando Islands of Adventure theme park, Disney would likely have spent billions less to expand its own theme parks.
"Wizarding World" set a standard for theme-park lands as it was fully immersive. Once you stepped inside the attraction, you literally entered a new world.
Universal and the now-controversial Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling managed every detail down to tiny ones, like not selling Coca-Cola -- or anything else not from Potter's world -- inside the theme land.
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Before Universal added its Harry Potter lands, Disney had drastically cut spending at both Disney World and Disneyland. Instead of steadily developing major attractions, it added character meet-and-greets, food-based festivals, and other inexpensive new additions. Epcot even saw some areas close as deals from the parks' original corporate sponsorship model ended.
"Wizarding World," however, threw down the gauntlet and forced Disney to invest billions in its parks. That led to "Toy Story Land" at Hollywood Studios, "Pandora: World of Avatar" at Animal Kingdom, and the biggest investment, "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" at Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.
You can also thank Harry Potter for the "Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind" at Epcot (as well as many other changes at that park) and the upcoming "Tron: Lightcycle/Run" at Magic Kingdom.
And in many ways the boy wizard gets credit for all the Universal Studios rides added due to Disney's changes and Universal's upcoming Epic Universe park.
Potter will, of course, be a major part of Universal's third Florida theme park, and now we know a lot more about those plans.
What Harry Potter at Epic Universe Will Look Like
When Comcast's (CMCSA) Universal Studios first said that it planned a third gate in Florida (the company says fourth because it considers the Volcano Bay water park its third gate), Harry Potter clearly was going to be part of it. In the early days the assumption was that the new area would be themed to the Ministry of Magic from the "Fantastic Beasts" movies.
The relative failure of that series, however, cast some doubts on whether Universal would go in that direction. Now, however, Theme Park Tourist has uncovered some key details on the third "Wizarding World" theme park land.
"It looks like park-goers will be able to see some of the sights of Paris when they enter as Twitter user Bioreconstruct has noted the construction of a copy of the Porte Saint-Denis arch in the land in recent construction photos. This likely means that the land will be based on Place Cachée, as seen in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,'" the website reported.
"The land will also feature an attraction that transports guests to the Ministry of Magic (which is located in London) via Floo powder."
In addition, the website speculated that attraction would actually be timeline-based in the original books and not in the earlier days of "Fantastic Beasts."
The attraction "will take guests inside the sentencing of the evil Delores Umbridge at the Ministry of Magic. Reportedly, actor Imelda Staunton has signed on to reprise her role for the ride," the website added.
Here's How Disney Will Answer Epic Universe
Many Walt Disney (DIS) fans have been surprised at the company's lack of major new attraction announcements in answer to Epic Universe. Few people expected that the Mouse House would add a fifth gate to Disney World, but many assumed that the company would at least add a new land to Magic Kingdom, or make some other major addition.
Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger did not make specific promises, other than saying that a "Pandora/Avatar" attraction would be coming to Disneyland. But he did address Disney World and Disneyland expansion plans during his remarks at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference.
"Certainly, in Florida, we have a lot of property, and we have a lot of opportunity outside the United States. We actually have more opportunity in California than people are aware," the CEO said.
"As we continue to invest in those businesses, which is essentially building out new capacity or new attractions, it gives us the ability to ... service more people. The more attractions you have, obviously, the more people have to do."
That's vague, but Iger did say to expect more rides based on Disney's deep well of intellectual property.
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